Kate’s Corner
Jun 06 2016

  Power Ranger Safe Guy


Young children are magical thinkers.  They are also very concrete thinkers.  While this seems to be in contradiction, in the world of 3 and 4 year olds it isn’t.

Listening to a very gabby 3 year old recently I heard a story that was both very concrete and highly magical.  It also was a story that needs corrections, retelling and high attention to rethinking safety in the mind of a young preschooler.  Rooted in recent safety lessons in the classroom and continued conversations at home, this little guy told me that he knows how to be safe.  I told him that that was great – could he help me be safe too?  What should I know about?  What should I do?

Here are his highlights:

If you are near a bad guy – hit him in the private parts (not a classroom lesson and he didn’t say    private parts).

Then go home and change into your Red Power Ranger suit and get your sword.  Then you are a Power Ranger Safe Guy.

Then tell your mom and dad.  Go get them.

I asked him how he would know if there was a bad guy. 

He told me that the bad guys look like Scar.  Predictably, my little friend told me that he likes to watch Lion King and he also watches Lion Guard on TV.  Scar is the bad guy who kills the Lion King Mufassa.  Scar is also a lion.

There is one very important lesson that this 3 year old knows about keeping safe; Tell your mom and dad.  Go get them.  This is concrete thinking.  These are true actions.  The rest of the safety highlights of his story are not.  OK, the first one has some merit, but is highly questionable when considering the rest of the story and the story teller.

Here are real highlights that all young children should know to be safe:

Always stay with an adult.  Hold hands.

Never go anywhere with anyone you don’t know.

Police Officers and Fire Fighters are friends and will help us.

These 3 safety steps are not magical at all.  They are concrete.  They are real.

As the summer approaches all of our children are more involved with travel, playing at playgrounds, attending sports events, picnicking, going to parks, beaches and The Fair and basically being part of larger crowds.  This is exciting – and distracting.  Not just exciting and distracting for children, but for adults too.

There are other important safety measures as children get older and have more independence and freedom of movement.  These match maturation and activities of older children.  They are sensitive to being keenly aware of personal space, relationships, property and limits.  Safety measures are critical for all children at all ages.

But for little ones The Power Rangers are real.  We have to help them begin to understand and practice basic concrete safety rules to keep then build on.

So how do you know that your child knows how to be safe?  The best way is to assume they don’t, then ask them to tell you a story about safety.  Ask them to keep you safe and tell you what you should know and do.  If you get the same story (or version of) that I did and your answers were very much like the ones I got in earnest by a bright, articulate and attentive 3 year old – start over until you get the answers needed.